International partnership to bolster world-leading evolution research

Two of the world’s leading centres for evolutionary science will join forces to strengthen evolution research and education, through a new partnership deal announced today, Friday 12 February, for International Darwin Day.

The Milner Centre for Evolution, our unique cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education, was established last year and made possible by a generous £5 million donation from Bath alumnus, Dr Jonathan Milner. Its focus is on studying some of the fundamental evolutionary questions which still persist in biology, and using this insight to find new technological and clinical research applications. A key strand to its work is in taking the message about evolutionary research out into the community.

It will now partner with the University of Oslo’s Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES). CEES has been at the forefront of evolutionary science research for a number of years and, in 2007, was established as a Norwegian Centre for Excellence and international leader in the field.

International collaboration for research excellence

By joining forces, the researchers hope this partnership will promote international excellence in collaborative research and will lead to important breakthroughs, in particular in applied healthcare.

Professor Ed Feil from the Milner Centre for Evolution explained: “Evolutionary biology underpins the whole of Life Sciences. Through our new Centre we’re aiming to understand more about how and why species change over time. This new partnership between the Milner Centre and CEES will significantly boost our ability to achieve these aims.”

Chair of CEES, Professor Nils Christian Stenseth, added: “The joining of forces between our two universities will certainly be a win-win collaboration, not least in terms of the greater exchange of students and early career researchers. I look forward to our collaboration."

Applied research through the Milner Centre for Evolution

Applied evolutionary research is at the heart of the Milner Centre for Evolution. It focuses on developing tools to tackle real-life challenges, like tracking bacterial disease epidemics or improving agriculturally-important animals and plants.

As part of this, Bath researchers are taking this message beyond academia, through improved public engagement.

A broad spectrum of complementary disciplines underpins the work of CEES in Oslo, such as population biology, statistical and mathematical modelling, genomics and a focus on ecology as a driving force of evolution via selective processes.

Professor Colin Grant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) added: “This kind of partnership between leading international research centres is central to boosting the impact of research in this fundamental area. Through increased research student and staff mobility, we look forward to welcoming our colleagues from Oslo to Bath and, in turn, finding new opportunities to engage in Norway.”

Professor Feil has served on the Advisory Board for CEES in Oslo. As part of the new partnership Professor Stenseth will chair the advisory board for the Milner Centre for Evolution at Bath.

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